What is Montessori Parenting?
The Montessori method which was applicable to pre schools and education in general has now been replicated at homes. With more and more parenting styles of this kind being embraced, it is gaining a lot of popularity.
The Montessori method was invented by Dr. Maria Montessori. It propagates an individualistic approach and Independent learning. More and more parents are practicing this method now and are celebrating the uniqueness of their older kids as well as the younger ones.
What are the five principles of the Montessori method?
The Montessori method functions on five basic principles. The gist of which is independent learning. Respect for each and every child is extremely important. These principles hold true because children can learn at their own pace.
Principle 1: Respect for the Child
The Montessori method is based on this very approach that children should be respected for who they are. Their choices and patterns of studies are respected and celebrated. A teacher should be their guiding light who does not judge them.
It is an approach of celebrating the ‘self’. The self which can independently and liberally make choices. This is the basic and fundamental pillar of a Montessori approach.
Principle 2: The Absorbent Mind
According to the American Montessori Society, a young child subconsciously absorbs from his environment. The source of his observations and teachings are external. Each child draws his lessons from the environment around him. The effort is spontaneous, natural and effortless.
A great deal of learning is simply absorbed by the mind. The child tries to imitate the family and the community around him. A child’s mind is like a sponge, absorbing and assimilating everything.
Principle 3: Sensitive Periods
Montesori parenting believes that the effect of the environment is the strongest on a child during a certain period in one’s lifetime. That period is almost believed to last from birth to five years of age. This time period is referred to as the ‘sensitive period’.
For instance, children pick up their mother tongue easily and naturally in their toddler years.
Principle 4: The Prepared Environment
Montessori parenting is designed in such a way that it reflects what we call a ‘prepared environment’. The ambience created is extremely child friendly. It is properly structured with all the furnishings placed within the reach of children.
Each piece of furniture has a purpose. The classrooms are well lit and children can easily access each part of the infrastructure. A prepared environment stimulates love for learning in the kids and the freedom to choose.
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Principle 5: Independent Learning
One of the most important principles of Montessori parenting is independent learning. Being a child centric form of education, it facilitates self learning. The baton lies in the hands of the children and they can mold their teaching learning process in whichever way they like.
Kids are given opportunities to make their own choices and carve their own path. The activities undertaken are also child friendly so they flourish and explore by themselves. Of course, under the guidance of a Montessori educator.
Principle 6: Respect for each Individual
As per Montessori parenting, each child is special and unique in their own ways. To uphold their integrity, respect and choices in high regard, is the motto of this approach. Not interfering with your child’s wishes, feelings and rights is the basis of Montessori principle.
The teachers and caregivers should act in a way that reflects that the children deserve to be treated with respect. They should be showered with time and attention in the classroom.
Principle 7: Intrinsic Motivation
Since Montessori parenting is extremely child friendly, the motivation to learn in children comes from within. Children are born with an innate curiosity to learn and explore. This is why children are full of questions and looking for honest answers.
The environment they observe around them stirs their conscious and subconscious mind making them hungry for knowledge. It is this hunger that strives them to become who they are.
Principle 8: Refining the Natural Senses
Montessori parenting is popular for honing the natural senses. All activities are conducted to simulate the sensory organs of kids. A child’s understanding of shapes, colors, textures, sound, taste, smell helps them understand the world a little better.
Practical life activities facilitate the teaching learning process giving the children a taste of the real world. It helps in developing thinking and analytical skills and improves hand and eye coordination. Montessori material and supplies are designed keeping in mind the natural senses.
Principle 9: Auto Education
Maria Montessori defined ‘auto education’ as the ‘human ability to self construct knowledge without any external extensions or guidance’. Auto means self and the Montessori approach concentrates on the education of self with intrinsic motivation as the driving force to attain enlightenment.
The main idea is that no person is ever educated by others unless he is willing to learn and assimilate.
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What are the Advantages of Montessori?
Montessori parenting is a self directed method. It is advantageous for children who are highly motivated to learn and do things their own way. It is a blessing for kids who are willing to work for longer hours and are driven to learn and absorb.
These programs are also an advantage for children who want to evade noise, chaos or disturbance of any kind.
Focussed on Hands on Independent Learning
A Montessori parent promotes liberty and independence to study at one’s own pace. It does not bind a child in stringent structures or patterns. It gives them ample breathers to mold their curriculum the way they like.
There are no unneeded strict discipline measures or rules to confine a child. Unlike a traditional school, a Montessori preschool does not embroil the young children into a rigid time table or pattern. They discover the world on their own along the way.
Enhanced Social Interaction
According to a Montessori parent, the child learns how to socially interact with his/her peers. Kids get ample opportunities to interact with one another. Group activities and projects are one of the most important mediums for the children to come together.
Sharing of food and snacks with one another and sharing stories polishes their inter and intra personal social skills. Mixed age groups are an important element of a Montessori classroom. As per the Montessori philosophy, one often finds the older kid helping the younger one and vice versa.
A Cultivated Love for Learning
The biggest advantage that the Montessori approach offers is its innate and intrinsic motivation that eventually becomes the driving force for a child to learn and absorb.
The urge to learn comes from within which becomes the guiding light for a learner. If this inherent love for learning is properly cultivated then it can yield great results in the future. The Montessori parenting method aims at doing the same.
Inclusive of Special Needs
The Montessori school supports and provides a conducive environment to all kinds of children. Children with disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia, autism etc all have a special and important place in this program.
Children learn in multi age and mixed classes and stay with the same teacher for three years. Such students can attend to their learning rather than adjusting to a new set of people every year. They are provided with unending and unwavering support throughout.
Independence is Mainstay
The key feature of the approach is the independence given to the Montessori toddler. They choose what they wish to learn. As they say, ‘’Independence is the greatest gift a parent can provide his child.’’
That is what Montessori strives for. Montessori schools provide children with self confidence and faith in themselves. Maria Montessori was of the view that if we are nurturing our children to grow up into wise and thinking adults then might as well start during their ‘sensitive period’.
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What are the Disadvantages of Montessori?
Each coin has two sides. If there are unpteen pros to the Montessori approach then there are cons too. It is not a given that every single Montessori baby will be a success story or it will always have a positive outcome. The following are the disadvantages of the Montessori setup:
It Can be Incredibly Expensive
Most Montessori schools are super expensive and do not have affordable tuition fees. The high fee structures are because of the resources they gather. The special Montessori supply makes it expensive.
The pricey nature of Montessori schools makes it unattainable and out of reach for the common man. Therefore, children who come from wealthy families have easy access to it and others do not.
Not Easily Accessible for its Elitist Nature
The fact that it is overtly pricey makes it inaccessible and out of reach. Only the elites and upper class can send their children to such schools who can afford their high fees. This notion began in the 1950s and 1960s when Maria Montessori’s educational revolution began. People always associated Montessori education with the rich and considered it too elite for their child.
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Some Believe the Structure to be too Loose
It is often believed that too much independence and liberty can lead to utter chaos and indiscipline in a lower elementary school. A Montessori teacher can also struggle to manage the classroom.
If there aren’t any strict patterns or structures then it might make the child go astray. It can especially be unsettling and uncomfortable for children who have never followed regimes and patterns. A Montessori child that way will never learn how to adapt and follow schedules and patterns. They might find it rather difficult to adapt to a middle school where the Montessori activities are not followed.
The Independence Focus Can be too Much
This is the biggest criticism that a parent faces. The independence in a Montessori parenting style is way too much that it tends to get misused as well. The Montessori principles focus too much on individuality that one tends to feel uncomfortable in group activities and working in teams.
Independence should also come with certain boundaries so it does not lose its value. Children tend to forget their responsibilities and duties and only concentrate on their rights.
Education and parenting have become wider terms and cannot be confined to their conventional meanings now. Be it the Montessori environment or a traditional one, the ultimate goal for each educator and a parent/caregiver is to mold their kids into responsible and ethical human beings first.